Otello, Verdi’s penultimate opera, was composed more than a dozen years after Aida, which he had intended to be his last work for the stage. He was persuaded by his publisher Giulio Ricordi to work with the librettist Arrigo Boito on an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello; the resulting work is one of the supreme examples of Italian opera. Greeted with enormous enthusiasm at its premiere at La Scala in 1887, Otello immediately went on to huge success in all the major opera houses of the world. The richness of its musical and dramatic inventiveness is largely unmatched in Verdi’s output, and its title role is perhaps the most demanding for the tenor in any Italian opera.
This volume contains articles describing how Verdi was persuaded to write the opera and extracts from the extended correspondence between Verdi and Boito during the period of composition, as well as a detailed musical commentary and a historical survey of important productions and performers of the principal roles. The guide includes the full libretto with English translation, a discography, a bibliography, and DVD and website guides.
The Moor of Venice, Milan and Sant’Agata, Avril Bardoni
Otello: Drama and Music, Benedict Sarnaker
Otello: A Selective Performance History, Hugo Shirley
Otello: Libretto by Arrigo Boito after the play Othello by William Shakespeare
Otello: English translation by Avril Bardoni
These guides, so beautiful to have and to behold, mark a huge advance on their predecessors. I find them essential supplements, not only to ENO and Royal Opera programmes, but to recordings issued on CD which often come without scholarly documentation and a libretto. The performance histories … are especially valuable, and not easily accessible elsewhere.
For anyone with a keen interest in opera, whatever their level of knowledge, this series remains a benchmark of quality and clarity. The content is serious, reliable and trustworthy, handsomely put together, full of variety and scholarship but always making the practical experience of going to the opera a priority. I return to these volumes again and again and find the updated and new issues absolutely invaluable.
Neat little volumes they are, handy for carrying around, clearly printed and well set-out, complete with libretto and translation, discography and a generous selection of illustrations.
This uniformly excellent series is indispensable for the serious opera lover, all the more so now that almost all the CD companies have abandoned issuing a libretto with their opera releases, and have such scant background information. The English translations are on facing pages with the original texts, and in all respects the books are helpful and compact, and interestingly illustrated.
For everything you need to know, concisely packaged.
I am delighted to see the return of the ENO Opera Guides, bigger and even more authoritative than before. There are authoritative new articles as well as several of the irreplaceable originals, the presentation is very handsome and a decided gain is the brilliantly chosen selection of production images, in colour as well as black and white. The Guides are an invaluable reference for opera lovers at any level.
BBC Music Magazine
Invaluable as an aid to understanding Otello's unique greatness.
BBC Music Magazine
Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) is one of Italy’s most celebrated opera composers. His best-known operas include Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata and Aida.